At Colorado Canine Orthopedics, virtually all animals walk out of the hospital the day of TPLO surgery. Weight bearing is permitted immediately. Most dogs start using the leg within a day or two of their TPLO surgery; many use the leg that evening. Sutures are buried and do not require removal. An E-collar, also known as the cone of shame, should be used for seven to 10 days when your dog is unsupervised. Icing is helpful for a few days following surgery. Physical therapy, both at home and at a physical rehabilitation center aids the healing process. Passive range of motion and massage are examples of beneficial therapies demonstrated at discharge.
Following TPLO surgery, most dogs are quite comfortable. The surgeons at Colorado Canine Orthopedics find TPLO patients to be more comfortable following surgery than following many other procedures. This comfort is, in large part, due to the stability afforded by today’s bone plate technology. The bone/plate/screw combination provides better stability than any other repair on any other type of tissue. Oral pain medications are helpful for 2-6 weeks following surgery.
Upon returning home after a TPLO, your dog should be restricted to the house with short leash walks initially, progressing to longer and longer walks as weeks go by. Stairs are usually permitted with supervision. The TPLO is one of the strongest repairs in all of veterinary surgery, but squirrel chasing and excessive rough-housing should be avoided.
The skin will heal in about 10-14 days, but the bone takes months to heal completely. While bone takes longer to heal, it heals stronger than any other connective tissue in the body! Complete bone healing takes about three months but varies from animal to animal and is somewhat dependent on a dog's age (figure 1). Once healed, nearly all dogs return to full function. Without doubt, 95 percent of owners are satisfied with long-term results of a TPLO. Learn more about post-TPLO rehabilitation services now available at Canine Rehabilitation & Arthritis Center.